While Villarreal chase the first major trophy in the team’s history, Manchester United are looking for their seventh European crown in Gdansk. Supporters from both teams will be in place for the final in the Stadion Miejski, which will be just under a quarter full with 9,500 supporters in the ground.
It promises to be an intriguing contest between arguably the two best-performing sides of the knockout stages. No team who got that far averaged fewer goals conceded per game than Villarreal, who have let in just eight in 13 matches and held Arsenal to one goal across the two legs of their semi-final. Meanwhile Manchester United made it to the final in free scoring fashion, smashing eight past Roma. Twice so far in this competition Spanish sides — Real Sociedad and Granada — have fallen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, can Villarreal prove that the third time is the charm? Here is all you need to know:
- Date: Wednesday, May 25
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Stadion Miejski — Gdansk, Poland
- TV and Live stream: Paramount+
- Follow along: Live blog
- Odds: Manchester United -118; Draw +240; Villarreal +360 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
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Manchester United: It will be an anxious wait for Solskjaer to see whether Harry Maguire recovers in time but should there be even a chance that the captain has shaken off the ankle ligament issue he suffered against Aston Villa earlier this month he will surely come in. Though Maguire is not a perfect center back he is a good fit alongside Victor Lindelof, particularly in comparison to Eric Bailly, and offers United ball progression from deep.
“Harry’s here, he’s travelled with us,” said Luke Shaw. “There’s another session to go and we’ll see how he is. We’re hoping he’ll be available but the main focus is for the players who are out there to fit to enjoy the session today and be ready for tomorrow.” Solskjaer, meanwhile, said that Maguire would be “just going to jog up and down the sidelines” before potentially involving himself in training. It is shaping up to be an anxious wait for United.
Villarreal: In Unai Emery, Villarreal have a master of this competition in the dugout. The Spaniard is bidding to join elite company such as Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez as managers with four European trophies to their name. Discount Super Cups and Intercontinental Cups, both of which are one-off fixtures open to teams who won last season’s competitions, and the list of men with such success on the continent is small indeed.
That experience will help a club who have so often found themselves falling just short in major competitions. Villarreal reached four European semi-finals between 2004 and 2016, a period where they also finished second in La Liga. Even a season in exile in the Spanish second tier ended with them promoted but runners-up to Elche. Among those who played for him Emery does not lack in admirers with Manchester United’s Juan Mata, who worked with him for three years at Valencia describing him as “a methodic manager, hard-working, professional, preparing for every single game like a final.
“We will have to be ready because I’m sure he’ll come up with something different, some kind of surprise from their team, tactically or from set pieces.”
Emery may have heritage in this competition but United have all the quality, particularly in the final third. That ought to be enough. PICK: Manchester United 2 Villarreal 0